Morning sickness can hit like a ton of bricks, especially during the first trimester. Dehydration often comes along with nausea and is a concern for many expecting mothers. Pedialyte has long been touted as a dehydration cure, but since it’s usually meant for kids – is Pedialyte safe to drink as an adult, too?
Overall, Pedialyte is completely safe to drink, even during pregnancy. Though the balance of carbohydrate, electrolytes, and water rehydrate effectively when dehydration strikes, Pedialyte is not necessary to stay hydrated and have a healthy pregnancy.
So while Pedialyte drinks are safe, what’s the difference between their different styles – and how does Pedialyte stack up to Gatorade? I’ll break down the differences below.
Is It Safe to Drink Pedialyte During Pregnancy?
Across all of Pedialyte’s offerings, their ingredients are fairly simple and since Pedialyte is marketed as a food, they’re also all safe to drink.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ll compare all of the different versions to the Classic Pedialyte, as it’s their most basic style.
Classic Pedialyte contains water, sugar, electrolytes, zinc, non-nutritive sweetener, flavoring, and coloring.
The organic version is nutritionally identical, but uses all USDA-certified organic ingredients and replaces some of the sugar and sucralose with fruit juice and stevia.
AdvancedCare and AdvancedCare Plus contain galactooligosaccharides, which are a prebiotic (source: Science Direct). Prebiotics feed gut bacteria, helping to promote healthy digestion. The galactooligosaccharides do come from dairy, so these versions of Pedialyte aren’t suitable for women with milk allergies or vegans.
In addition to the milk-derived prebiotics, another allergen used in some Pedialyte is red dye, which some folks are allergic to. Not all of the red or orange-hued drinks use this dye though, so if you have an allergy it’s best to read the label when choosing a flavor.
Pedialyte also offers a convenient stick option, called powder packs, which can be emptied into a water bottle on-the-go. These packs are nearly identical to their liquid counterparts, however, the zinc is omitted. Same goes for the freezer pops, but I’ll cover those in greater detail below.
Interestingly, the addition of zinc to oral rehydration solutions has been shown to decrease episodes of diarrhea (source: World Health Organization). So if you’re needing to rehydrate due to bathroom-related issues, it may be more helpful to stick with the liquid Pedialyte as opposed to the powder packs.
Pedialyte for Pregnancy Dehydration
Between morning sickness and a higher fluid need to support circulation between mom and baby, dehydration is a major concern for some expecting mothers.
During dehydration, not only does the body lose water, but electrolytes as well. That’s where Pedialyte steps in.
While it was originally created with kids in mind, Pedialyte works for adults, too! The official Pedialyte website even suggests their drinks for pregnant women experiencing dehydration (source: Pedialyte).
All Pedialyte drinks combine water, sugar, and electrolytes in the optimal concentration to maximize re-hydrating power.
Sugar may seem like an odd ingredient at first, but it’s actually necessary to get the water moved into your body as fast as it can. The sugar, labeled as dextrose in Pedialyte’s case, activates the intestinal mechanism responsible for pulling in water, sodium, and potassium (source: Current Gastroenterology Reports).
More recently, “adult” electrolytes solutions have come on the market. These work in the same way as Pedialyte, but tend to be a bit pricier.
Pedialyte for Pregnancy Nausea or Morning Sickness
As we’ve already talked about, morning sickness and nausea are all too common during pregnancy.
Pedialyte is a very effective way to rehydrate, and this includes after vomiting as happens with bouts of morning sickness. If you are only experiencing mild morning sickness and are not vomiting frequently, it’s not likely that you’ll need to rely on Pedialyte as drinking water should be enough to rehydrate.
For more serious morning sickness, frequent vomiting, or frequent diarrhea, Pedialyte can be a big help when it comes to staying hydrated.
If you’re unable to meet your individual fluid goal, plus make up for whatever is lost through the time spent in the bathroom, it’s time to reach for a rehydration solution to prevent dehydration.
Remember, if you are experiencing serious morning sickness, it’s best to also discuss your concerns with your medical provider to ensure you and baby stay healthy.
Is Pedialyte Good for You During Pregnancy?
By design, Pedialyte is meant to treat illness-related dehydration. And though none of the ingredients are harmful, they’re also not necessary if you’re able to maintain hydration drinking other fluids, like water.
Guzzling liter after liter of Pedialyte could inadvertently cause your body to hold on to too much water, leading to feeling a bit bloated.
Because Pedialyte is also sweetened with sugar, which is necessary for the drink to work as well as it does for rehydration purposes, it is considered to be a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB). Routinely drinking more than 5 servings of SSBs weekly has been associated with some negative pregnancy outcomes (source: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society).
While drinking Pedialyte to remedy occasional dehydration isn’t likely to cause any negative effects, it’s best to use as intended and get your electrolytes through your diet when you can.
The main electrolytes Pedialyte replenishes are sodium, potassium, and chloride. Most folks don’t need to search out dietary sources of sodium (hello, salty chip/crisp cravings).
Potassium is also widely available from foods. ½ cup navy or lima beans, ½ cup beets, 3 oz ground beef, a nectarine, 6 oz yogurt, and ½ cup vegetable juice all have a similar amount of potassium as a serving of Pedialyte (source: University of Michigan Medicine).
Chloride is the one electrolyte that’s not usually listed on food labels. Luckily, table salt is one part sodium, one part chloride making salty foods a good source of chloride, too.
How Much Pedialyte Can I Drink When Pregnant?
Worries of accidentally overdoing it are common during pregnancy. Pedialyte is no exception, especially for women who are drinking Pedialyte “supplementally” and not due to dehydration.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s not necessary to drink Pedialyte. While water is always the preferred beverage of choice for regular hydration needs, the good news is that it’s also fairly hard to overdo it on Pedialyte, dehydrated or not.
But how much is too much?
Women generally need 8-12 glasses of fluid daily for the duration of their pregnancy (source: American Pregnancy Association). Unless you are dehydrated or sweating a lot, there’s also no real need to drink any more than this.
There’s not enough potassium or chloride to come near meeting the RDA through Pedialyte alone, but sodium is another story.
Though there’s no reason to restrict sodium during pregnancy, getting too much sodium in your diet can cause you to feel bloated and uncomfortable, especially during later pregnancy.
Pregnant women are recommended to follow the regular dietary guidelines when it comes to sodium, getting 2,300 mg daily or less (source: FDA). It would take nearly 75 ounces, or 9 cups, of Pedialyte to hit that amount. This means you’d have to be drinking Pedialyte as your only fluid all day long.
So while there’s no hard and fast limit on how much Pedialyte is safe to drink during pregnancy, it’s definitely best to drink water as your main fluid.
What’s the Best Way to Take Pedialyte When You’re Pregnant?
If you’re dehydrated, the best way to “take” Pedialyte is the way that’s most comfortable for you. Whether you use the powder packs for convenience, drink fluid Pedialyte out of a glass, or nibble on one of the Pedialyte popsicles – you’ll be getting all of the benefits of rehydration.
Pedialyte Popsicles/Freezer Pops During Pregnancy
Pedialyte popsicles are especially popular, not to mention a bit more fun than the traditional liquid Pedialyte.
Per 2 popsicle serving, these freezer pops have about ⅓ of the electrolyte and carbohydrate content. They are smaller and so concentration of the hydrating ingredients is on par with fluid Pedialyte.
The coolness of the frozen pops may itself provide some relief from nausea or feeling feverish. And for women with pregnancy-related pica, the popsicles are an easy-on-the-teeth alternative to chewing on plain ice.
Many women also wonder if they can make their own rehydration popsicles at home and it couldn’t be any easier!
To make the pops, simply pour an oral rehydration solution into freezer pop molds and let freeze until set.
Pedialyte vs Gatorade During Pregnancy
Gatorade and Pedialyte often get put together in the same category, but were really created with two totally different goals in mind.
Gatorade, which you can get the full scoop on from our separate article, is intended for rehydrating and refueling after intense exercise.
And as you know by now, Pedialyte’s main purpose is for rehydrating after illness-related dehydration.
Because Gatorade was made for rehydrating after exercise, their original style has a higher sugar content, meant to replenish the energy lost during sport. Unlike most Pedialyte products, Gatorade doesn’t contain zinc, making Pedialyte a better choice if you’re suffering from diarrhea.
Pedialyte is also a bit higher in electrolytes than Gatorade since it’s focus is rapid hydration.
Neither option is truly better than the other. Rather, it depends on your body’s needs. If you’re not eating much due to nausea or had a tough workout, the extra carbohydrate in Gatorade can give you an energy boost.
Overall, Pedialyte is a great choice to rehydrate after bouts of morning sickness or other illness, and all of Pedialyte’s styles are perfectly safe during pregnancy. Some versions do have milk ingredients and/or red dye, so check if you’re allergic.
While it’s hard to overdo it on Pedialyte, remember the drink is also not necessary to keep hydrated and have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.